Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Karen Asks, "Is this some kind of Sapsucker and what is he doing?"

 Long time blog reader Karen Anne Kolling of Rhode Island snapped these pictures of a visitor to the The Gonzo Deck, sent them on, and asked,

"Is this a sapsucker of some kind?  I wondered why the deck railing was getting a little shredded :-) Sorry for the photo quality, I have translucent decals on the windows, supposedly highly visible to birds in their vision range."

Well Karen, I'd say you have a male Red-bellied Woodpecker.  

Yes I know, his belly doesn't look the least red, but if he were a bird skin and you turned his tummy just the right way in the right light, you might see a bit of a blush.  This is what comes of naming species from their skins as opposed to naming them from obvious characteristics in life.

Central Park has Red-bellies, one of which used to catch peanuts on the wing in his beak on a daily basis.  I watched him a lot.  And just once in the right angle of sun, I saw a slightly rosy flash off his abdomen.

And what might our guy be doing to your railing?

First off one might suspect an infestation of insects  but your railing doesn't look much like an insect haven and as you ask if he's a Sapsucker, and you say your railing is beginning to look shredded,  I suspect that he mut appear to be making holes, or at least attempting to make crevices of some kind with his beak.

Tis the season for "hatching".  I don't know if you get them at your place, but Nuthatches cache seeds by poking them into small crevices and "hatching", hammering,  them in with their beaks.  

Some Woodpeckers also create cavities and then stash seeds in them as well, for later winter use when things get slim.

When you get a chance go out and take a close look at the cracks in the railing and let us know.

Then of course their is the mystery option.  I've  read that in certain cases woodpeckers busily whack away on houses or other man fashioned wood and even after stringent observation the observers never do figure  out why they're doing it.

Other than... they just want to.

Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

Thanks for the info! (No photos show up in the blog entry, for me, anyway, although they seem to be trying to.)

The railing is about thirty years old, so it has a lot if crevices. There might be something in there.

I couldn't see what he was after in the feeder dishes, so it was interesting to read that they like peanuts, which I do have on the deck. Every critter who visits the deck seems to like the (roasted, unsalted) peanuts except the mourning doves, who have no interest in them whatsoever.

Donegal Browne said...

I'm not sure about Red-bellies but Downies are pretty partial to sunflower seeds as well.

Hmmm, sorry about the lack of visible photos. I can see them on my machine. Is anyone else having trouble seeing them out there?

Donegal Browne said...

Karen Anne,

The photos have now disappeared from my view on the computer too. What is going on here? Fascinating.